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“A Wonderful Camp that Has a Major Flaw” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge

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Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge
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Savute Channel, Chobe National Park, Botswana   |  
Hotel amenities
Los Angeles
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
51 helpful votes 51 helpful votes
“A Wonderful Camp that Has a Major Flaw”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2007

This was the last of three safari camps owned by Orient-Express in Botswana that I stayed at. The living quarters were wonderful (tents that are great hotel rooms covered with canvas.)

If I had a choice of camps, however, this would not be the place I would elect. The game viewing of all the camps that I have experienced in Africa (3 previous safaris) was probably the worst. You will see animals and birds, but it pales compared to other areas of Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania. The area is very, very arid, with watering holes, most of which are kept full by pumps, being the only source of water. The area was reminiscent of Samburu in Kenya which is also very arid, however, Samburu has a river running through the area that provided the wildlife with sustenance, resulting in an abundance and diversity of game.

This is not to say that my experience was less than wonderful. Everything about the camp, management and staff was beyond expectation. You will be treated wonderfully. I write this review only to suggest that if this is your first safari, you might consider other camps and countries.

  • Stayed July 2007, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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71 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (18)
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English first
Los Angeles, California
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
67 hotel reviews
Reviews in 51 cities Reviews in 51 cities
143 helpful votes 143 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2007

I stayed here last year during peak season for Chobe, as part of a 4 camp itinerary involving two camps in Botswana and two camps in Zambia. Of the four, this was easily my least favorite.

It seems to cater to very wealthy groups of travelers going together; as a solo guest, I was rarely given much attention. Twice at dinner during my four nights I had to request a place to sit at the table, as I had been overlooked. Never was an apology made. When they brought the early breakfast in the mornings, they always brought me coffee despite my asking time and time again for tea. My request for vegetarian food had not reached the camp and thus I had to eat around the meat on offer.

I opted not to join the guides, preferring to enjoy the peace and quiet in the morning and evenings to view the elephants. After all, this is what Savute is (supposed to be) famous for and is the reason I chose to book here. All things considered, the close encounters with elephants are amazing and some of my fondest memories of my stay in Africa. That had little to do with Savute Elephant Camp other than its geography. I virtually had to defend myself with the staff when I told them I was not interested in game drives; they could not understand why I would not want to go out. Judging by the stories from other guests, I didn't miss anything special.

Savute is WILDLY expensive for what you get. I found the two managers too busy to be bothered with me, although most of the local staff were all to happy to help whenever I asked a question. I would definitely not stay here again; the price for my four nights was almost as much as the total for 10 nights in my other camps! I definitely prefer Star of Africa and CCAfrica properties as I felt they were more genuinely African and head and shoulders above Savute in terms of service. They may not be as luxurious but I didn't go to Africa to sleep in 500-thread count sheets and bathe with Egyptian cotton linens.

Also, after doing more research when I came home on Orient Express Safaris, it seems apparent that they take much more than they give to the communities where they choose to do business.

  • Liked — Location was amazing
  • Disliked — Everything else.
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled solo
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Midlands, UK
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2007

I’m new to tripadvisor and I’m busy reading reviews for our next holiday, but thought I’d take the time to post a review of the fantastic Savute elephant camp. Savute was the second camp (we went to Eagle camp first) on our honeymoon in August 2006. Following our arrival by light aircraft on the dirt landing strip, (and a close flyover of an elephant stood at the end of the airstrip) we were greeted to the camp by the management and some of the workers singing. We couldn’t believe it was for us, so we looked behind us to
see the important people who must have been arriving behind us. We were wrong, it was for us, and that is the kind of individual attention that you get at the Orient express camps.

Our room was spotlessly clean and in good condition with everything working as it should, with fabulous view over the watering hole, which seemed to be permanently occupied by at least 10 elephant. The food was superb, we have never eaten so well in our lives, and we got
quite addicted to the biltong we used to get with our sundowners out on the game drives.

Speaking of game drives, they were superb. Our guide, Keone, was an absolute star, and went to great lengths to track the animals for us,
and he always had a joke and a smile for us. The highlight of the drives must have been the family of Eagle Owls we saw, and watching the lions devour their fresh zebra kill.

All of the staff and management were helpful and so hard working, and the singing after dinner was a real treat. Truly a taste of Africa.

  • Stayed August 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 25, 2006

From the moment you arrive (usually by small plane on a dirt airstrip), your every need is taken care of! Lovely, friendly people managing and staying there.You can see elephants almost any time of the day or night from the dining area or from the veranda of your private 'tent.'

Good food - and six (6!) meal/snack/teatimes/etc.!

If you can possibly go, I am sure you will not be disappointed. (It is a little pricey - run by Orient Express, and they don't do anything half way - but worth it!)

For booking, they do have a website, but it wasn't working when I tried to use it, so I ended up with a travel agent in South Africa that I was using for another part of my trip.

Sorry I can't add pictures at the moment, but the website has some good ones.

jody

  • Stayed July 2006
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 6, 2005

We recently spent three nights at Savute on Honeymoon. The whole experience was stunning - so much game and the camp was brilliant with the staff all extremly helpful and friendly.

Highly recommended!

  • Stayed January 2005
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge

Address: Savute Channel, Chobe National Park, Botswana
Location: Botswana > North-West District > Chobe National Park
Amenities:
Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #8 of 20 Specialty Lodging in Chobe National Park
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Situated at the very heart of a wildlife reserve, Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge is authentic and truly wild - the perfect place to feel the pulse of Botswana. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Savute Elephant Camp By Orient-Express Hotel Chobe National Park

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